The development of the Los Angeles Lakers young core has been a major storyline this season, but no player has gotten more attention than rookie D’Angelo Russell. Russell has dealt with plenty of criticism this season, some of which has come from his head coach Byron Scott.
The early success of some of Russell’s contemporaries has made many wonder if the Lakers made the right choice with the second overall pick.
Scott still believes in Russell, but admits that he thought Russell would be a little further along right now than he is according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
“I probably thought he’d be a little further,” Scott said Saturday as the Lakers prepared to play San Antonio. “But … 19 years old. I always take that into consideration. Every time I try to chastise him about something or get mad at him about something, I always go right back to, ‘You know what? Coach, he’s 19. He’s still a kid, he’s still learning, he’s still trying to figure out what this league is all about.’ ”
Scott also said that Russell isn’t where he would like defensively, though he did note that Russell has improved significantly:
“Defensively, I was hoping he’d be a tad further along on the ball as well as off the ball. But those are things I look back from training camp until now, he’s gotten so much better in a lot of those areas. He knows and I know he still has a long way to go in those areas as well.”
Scott’s tough love approach with Russell has come under a lot of criticism, but Russell has been tough on himself as well. Russell hasn’t been as good as he expects of himself and he will continue to work until he reaches that level.
Russell may not be at the level that he or his coach wants, but he still possesses a lot of potential. He will be returning to the starting lineup at some point after the All-Star Break and all of the young players will likely play major roles down the stretch, which will give Russell an excellent opportunity to show everyone how good he can be.